This is a magazine I bought a couple of weeks ago from one of those second-hand book and magazine stalls on the left bank of the Seine, opposite the Louvre. Salut les copains was a magazine I read quite regularly in the early to middle ’60s, and I recognised the cover of this issue, which is from September 1965.
The magazine was the invention of Daniel Filipacchi, as was the hugely popular early-evening radio programme of the same name, which went out on Europe 1 and featured good American records as well as a mixed bag of French pop. I was a fan of that, too — the signal was quite audible in the middle of England — and three or four years ago I was delighted to find two nicely packaged four-CD boxes containing music featured on the show between 1959 and 1969, with station ads and idents thrown in: lots of Johnny Hallyday, Françoise Hardy, Richard Anthony (whose EP containing “J’entends siffler le train” was a fixture next to the Dansettes of most of the nice girls I knew), Claude François, France Gall, Eddy Mitchell, Les Surfs, Jacques Dutronc and so on.
You can usually find something interesting in an old magazine, and in September 1965 the editors of Salut les copains had a mixed bag of preoccupations, including the aspirations of a bunch of new French artists: now you think, whatever happened to Muriel Bianchi (debut disc: “Les Jaloux”), Thierry Vincent (“artistes préferés: Johnny Hallyday, les Coasters, Nina Simone”), Michele Sarna (inspired by “le folklore canadien”), Jacky Gordon (“un fan de jazz et son style s’apparente donc fortement au rhythm and blues”), Willy Lewis (“many think of him as one of the best drummers in France”), Mick Shannon (“the young singer who, in 1962, took the place of Dick Rivers with les Chats Sauvages”), Bernadette Grimm (“son idole: Edith Piaf”) and Laura Ulmer, a fresh-faced 17-year-old spotted by the impresario Eddie Barclay when her photograph appeared on the front page of Nice-Matin?
Out of two dozen candidates, the only name I recognise almost 50 years later is that of Pierre Barouh, already 31 years old and a fan of Georges Brassens and Billie Holiday; a couple of years later he would be playing Anouk Aimée’s husband — an ill-fated film stunt man who strums a guitar and sings Brazilian songs — in Claude Lelouch’s hugely successful Un homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman). Later, in real life, Barouh and Aimée were briefly married; he used his earnings from the film to buy an old mill in the Vendée, where he founded the Saravah label, which released recordings by French and Brazilian artists.
Salut les copains and its short-lived stablemate, Mademoiselle age tendre, provide a great deal of the material contained in a very entertaining new book called Yé-yé Girls of ’60s French Pop, compiled by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe. It’s published in the US by Feral House, and there are copies in London shops (I got mine at Foyle’s). It’s mostly visual: page after page of Françoise H, Sylvie Vartan, Sheila, France Gall, Jane Birkin and Chantal Goya. There’s also an informative commentary, and good stuff on more obscure girls. It’s a weakness of mine to like this sort of thing, I know, but there you go.